Q: Please tell me the proper way to order in a restaurant. Do you tell the waiter your choice of entree first, followed by the choice of soup and appetizer, or do you order the way the food appears on the menu: appetizer, soup and then main course? Or does it matter what the order is, as long as you pay the bill?
A: If you don't pay the bill, nothing else matters, does it?
You see, Miss Manners dealt with the last part of your question first, and not very sensibly at that. But you, like your waiter, can probably sort things out.
It is slightly easier on your waiter if you order in order. But most people decide on the main course before choosing what they plan to eat first, and all waiters are smart enough to allow for that by leaving space to write in the earlier courses.
Q: In our small lunchroom at work, the chairs are situated so that we are all facing one another. Recently, two co-workers have invited each other to pray aloud at the beginning of the meal.
Though not offended by this practice, we wonder what is the polite behavior for the remainder of the group. Should we ignore them, continuing conversation, thereby granting them some privacy, or are we expected to withhold conversation out of respect?
A: Grace said before a meal does not require privacy but does require the respectful silence of others at the same table. Miss Manners trusts that your colleagues are not uttering private prayers, such as the hope for deliverance from intolerable working conditions, at the company lunch table.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.